European Stock Futures Edge Higher

European stock markets are seen ending the week on a cautious note amid concerns over a highly-anticipated coronavirus vaccine, although strong data from China has helped the tone.

At 2:00 AM ET (0700 GMT), the DAX futures contract in Germany traded 0.1% higher, CAC 40 futures in France climbed 0.1%, while the FTSE 100 futures contract in the U.K. was largely flat.

Positive news surrounding potential vaccines to treat Covid-19 has resulted in strong recent gains in global stock markets, but doubts have emerged about the soundness of the results of AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN)’s coronavirus drug.

This medication was seen as the best candidate to help the developing world given its inexpensive cost and relative ease of storage and transportation.

These doubts could hinder its chances of getting speedy U.S. and EU regulatory approval, especially with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot saying Thursday that the company is now likely to run an additional global trial.

On Thursday, the U.K. Health Minister Matt Hancock announced the final details of a regional system set to take effect when blanket restrictions on England’s 55 million population end after a month-long lockdown, with almost half the population still having to live with very tough restrictions as the virus continues to claim lives.

On a positive note, China’s industrial profits rose at the fastest monthly pace in almost nine years in October, a further sign the economic recovery is gathering pace in the world’s second largest economy and a key trading region for European companies.

Wall Street will reopen on Friday for a half session following the Thanksgiving holiday, but trading volumes are likely to remain low.

In corporate news, Unilever (NYSE:UL) will be in the spotlight as the consumer goods maker trades in Amsterdam for the last time before a merger over the weekend of its Dutch and British corporate arms into one legal entity based in London, ending 90 years as a hybrid company.

Oil prices weakened Friday, retreating from an eight-month high in thin trading given the U.S. holiday and as traders look ahead to next week’s meeting of the major oil producers.

OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, are widely expected to decide to maintain the current cap on supply, rather than raising it in January by 2 million barrels a day as previously agreed, when they get together at the end of the month. However, this isn’t the universal opinion within the group given the recent rise in crude prices.

U.S. crude futures traded 1.7% lower at $44.94 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.3% to $47.87. Both benchmarks have risen by around 6% this week.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 0.1% to $1,806.25/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% higher at 1.1925.

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